Viking Age Arms and Armor Viking Axe When people think of Viking age weapons, they usually think first of the battle axe, and the image that forms in their mind is a massive weapon that only a troll could wield. In dating old axe heads photos, battle axes in the Viking age were light, fast, and well balanced, and were good for speedy, deadly attacks, as well as for a variety of nasty, clever moves.
The axe was often the choice of the poorest man in the Viking age. Even the lowliest farm had to have a wood axe left for cutting and splitting wood. In desperation, a poor man could pick up the farm axe and use it in a fight. Axes meant for battle were designed a bit differently than farm axes.
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Axe heads were made of iron and were single edged. A wide variety of axe head shapes were used in the Viking age.
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The sketch to the right shows three different 11th century axe heads, while the photo to the left shows three earlier axe heads. In the early part of the Viking era, the cutting edge was generally 7 to 15cm in long, while later in the Viking age, axes became much larger.
The cutting edge of the largest of the axe heads shown to the right is 22cm 9in long.
The edge of this axe is made of hardened steel welded to the iron head. The join line is clearly visible in the sketch and in the historical axe head. The steel permitted the axe to hold a better edge than iron would have allowed. Some axe datings old axe heads photos were elaborately decorated with inlays of precious metals, notably the Mammen axe head.
The head is decorated on every flat surface with inlays of silver and gold and was found in a rich grave that dates from the year Typically, axeheads had a wedge-shaped cross section.
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The cross section of the head near the edge more info sometimes diamond shape, which provided for greater strength for a given weight of iron.
A modern reproduction is shown in the near left photo, while a photo of a historic axe head with that diamond edge profile is shown to the right. Some axeheads had very thin, elegant cross-sections. A reproduction is shown in the middle left and a historic axe far left, all learn more here similar scales.
This axe is too thin and delicate for splitting wood; this axe is meant for splitting skulls. Some axe heads notably thick, dating old axe heads photos shaped axe heads such as the one seen to the left show evidence of having been made as a single piece, with the eye the hole for the haft punched out with a drift. The thinner blades often show evidence of having been folded around what would eventually become the eye and welded together with a steel bit for the edge.
In some cases, the wrap was symmetrical, while in other cases, the wrap was asymmetrical, with the weld just forward of the eye. The photo to the left shows two historical Viking age axe heads. The axe head in the foreground shows evidence of having been folded around the eye, while the thick axe head in the background had the eye punched out with a drift.
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Some historical axe heads have a visible weld on the back side the hammer side of the eye. It has been suggested that these heads were fabricated by shaping the general form of the head, then splitting the back of the head through its thickness, creating a Y-shaped cross-section.
The two arms of the Y were wrapped around to dating old axe heads photos the eye and forge welded together. A reproduction axe head made using this technique is shown to the right. The eyes typically were D-shaped or shield-shaped, rather than round, and the back the hammer was often flat and thicker than the sides, as can be seen on the three historical Viking-axe axe heads to the left, and in the reproduction axe head to the right.
I'm not aware of any archaeological evidence for double edged axe heads, nor of any mention of them in the stories. We don't axe heads photos how this dating old differed from a normal axe. Virtually all Viking-age axe heads are iron or steelalthough a bronze axe head left was found in Iceland in a Viking age context, which raises a number of interesting questions about why bronze would have been used in this application.
The head has an iron cutting bit, now heavily eroded. One wonders whether men used sheaths on their axes in the Viking age to protect against accidental cuts.
There is little archaeological evidence to suggest their use, notably a few finds from Hedeby. The available literary evidence does not suggest they were used.
In the Sagas of Icelanders, knives in sheaths are mentioned, saxes in sheaths are mentioned, swords in scabbards are mentioned, but there seems to be no mention of spears in sheaths or axes in sheaths. Indeed, there are more than a few examples suggesting that axes could be instantly put to use without any need to prepare them by, for example, removing the sheath.
The dating old axe heads photos suggests that the head of the axe was not covered. The sheath shown to the right is a modern reconstruction based on examples from well after the end of the Viking age. This replica axe is wickedly sharp, and my sense is that a sheath is essential unless one is extremely vigilant at all times.
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